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The Westminster Faith Debates

Seven Debates on the Place of Religion in our Public Life

Summarised by Linda Woodhead

As a result of my time in office as Education Secretary and Home Secretary I became acutely aware of the importance of religion in our society and the need to think more clearly about what role it plays and how we could address things in a better way.


In the first half of 2012 a series of debates on religion in British public life were held in Westminster.

Organised by the Rt Hon Charles Clarke and Professor Linda Woodhead,1 these debates presented new research findings from the £12m national Religion and Society Programme funded by the AHRC and ESRC.2

Academics presented the findings, which were responded to by public figures, and discussed in open debate with a large audience which included politicians, members of religious and secular organisations, and the general public.

The aim of the series was to update understanding and raise the level of conversation about religion.

The debates attracted widespread media coverage and public debate.

This booklet offers brief summaries of the debates and the issues they raised. The debates can also be accessed in audio and visual form by following the links below or googling 'Faith Debates'.

This series has been extremely successful in raising the level of public debate about religion, on topics of great importance for our national life.

[1] Charles Clarke was Home Secretary 2004-2006 and is currently Visiting Professor in Politics and Faith at Lancaster University. Linda Woodhead is Professor in the Department of Politics, Philosophy and Religious studies at Lancaster University, and Director of the Religion and Society Programme. They were assisted by Dr Rebecca Catto and Peta Ainsworth at Lancaster University, and by Elizabeth Hunter the Director of the think tank Theos.

[2] The Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council. See www‌.‌religionandsociety‌.‌org‌.‌uk

Read the debates

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